Malnutrition-Diabetes Link Baffling
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13 June 2011
By Sumitra Deb Roy
Sion Hosp Survey In Village Near Vaitarna Suggests Correlation
Diabetes should cease to be called an urban lifestyle disease, say doctors at the civic’run Sion Hospital, who recently found from a survey of a tribal village near Vaitarna that the sugar disease is slowly affecting even those who do not lead a stressful or sedentary lifestyle.
The study, carried out by the Preventive Social Medicine (PSM) department of the hospital, also found an uncanny correlation between malnutrition and diabetes. It found that most of the adults who are diabetic or on the threshold were malnourished as children. In the study, of the 596 persons above 25 years who were tested from Themba village, around 5.6% were found to be suffering from diabetes.
Another 1.2% had Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG), meaning they were in a pre’diabetic stage and could become full’blown diabetics. Around 4.4% were found to be highly diabetic, with absolutely uncontrolled sugar levels.
The study has baffled the doctors as common factors like junk food, lack of physical activity and stress, known to cause diabetes in urban populations, were missing in the village. “The study is an eye’opener.
It showed that villagers who do not lead a fast life or have bad eating habits are also susceptible to diabetes,’ said Dr Payal Laad, assistant professor, PSM department of Sion Hospital. The study won the first prize in a scientific meet recently.
The team from the hospital is now stressing for what health activists have for long been demanding: different approach to tackle rural or tribal diabetes. Interestingly, the same department from Sion Hospital had carried out a similar study in another tribal village about 10 years ago.
At that time, not one villager was found to be diabetic or having impaired sugar levels.
Laad explained that the villagers also had little or no knowledge of nutrition, as they were growing vegetables in their backyard but not eating them. Their meals only consisted of bhakri and techa (blend of green chillies and salt). However, several villagers were found to be addicted to alcohol and tobacco. Many of the addicts were diabetic.
Endocrinologist Dr Dheeraj Kapoor from Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital said that diabetes could soon become a bigger health issue than malaria and tuberculosis in rural areas. “At some point, even rural lifestyle and food habits are changing,’ he added.